Monday, May 17, 2010

The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black

The Poison Eaters: and Other Stories
Title:  The Poison Eaters and Other Stories
Author:  Holly Black
Illustrator:  Theo Black
Publisher:  Big Mouth House
Publication Date:  February 2010
Format:  Hardcover, 224 pages
Age Group:  Young Adult

The Poison Eaters and Other Stories is a collection of short stories by Holly Black. All but two of these stories have been previously published in other anthologies between 2004 and 2009.  Each story contains magic or fantasy creatures including vampires, fairies, and unicorns.  This is only the second book I have read by this author.  The first was the graphic novel Kin which I reviewed in November 2008.

Let me preface this review by saying that I am not generally a huge fan of short story collections.  I enjoy spending a good amount of time reading and I find that short stories are better for small bits of time as I cannot move from one directly into the next as I can with chapters of a novel.  I think good short stories are also incredibly difficult to write as the author must convey enough background information to the reader for the story to make sense while also keeping the narrative short.

With that said, I did enjoy most of the stories in this book.  My favorite by far was Paper Cuts Scissors about a library student who discovers that the characters in the books can come out of them and change their own stories.  My least favorite was actually the very next story, Going Ironside, because it felt like an incomplete writing exercise.  Maybe I just didn't get that one.  Each story in the book is very different from all of the others and Black does show a great range in her writing.  The characters were unique, although some felt a bit underdeveloped.  Unfortunately, nothing about this book really stood out for me positively or negatively and I've found that I've already forgotten the majority of the stories.

I received this book from Small Beer Press by being a Guru of a related item on  There was no expectation of a review and all opinions presented here are my own.

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